Sunday Summary 1.17.16A question for you: do you think we’re slightly more inclined to gives girls nickname-proof names? The thought had never occurred to me – if anything, I tend to prefer nickname-proof boy names. But I was writing another nicknames post – like this one about unexpected nicknames for Penelope, and this one about unexpected nicknames for Charles – and I realized something.

When I post questions about nicknames for girls’ names, I often hear “Why not just name her [nickname] instead?” But that article for Charles nicknames? It’s among the most read posts here, ever.

And so I’m wondering: even though it’s fading, is there still a slightly stronger impulse to name our sons after their fathers and grandfathers? One that prompts us to seek out unconventional nicknames for the second or third Charles in the family? Or could it be that we see Eliza as a reasonable way to name a daughter after grandma Elizabeth, but feel like only James will do to name a son after grandpa Jim?

Curious to hear your thoughts, because I’m not sure if I’m imagining this – or really on to something!

Now, elsewhere in NamingLand:

That’s all for this week! As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Of course there is a MUCH larger impulse to name sons after fathers. Just look at online nurseries, many are named so. It is what is keeping names like John, Charles or Robert still in the top100.

  2. I’m not sure how much it’s even fading, or can be expected to fade.

    If you look at the SSA data for 1984 (my birth year, so I figure it’s a very average “mom” birth year), well over half of the male names in the top 20s are ones I’d be completely unsurprised to encounter on a baby boy. Girl names…I guess I wouldn’t be that surprised to meet a baby Sarah or Elizabeth, and I have met a Rachel. But almost all the rest are decidedly out of style.

    Go back to my mom’s generation (1953)…more good, solid, classic male names (except for poor Gary). And more dowdy sounding grandma names on the female side.

    Basically, because there’s a long standing tradition of passing down male names, the most common male names have become timeless in a way that very few female names are. So even if people want to be equitable about honoring both of their parents, it’s harder to balance that with being stylish on the female side.